South African & Kenya Airways eye pan-African airline group in new agreement

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South African Airways (SAA) has signed a memorandum of co-operation with Kenya Airways (KQ) with a longer-term view to co-starting a Pan-African Airline Group that in time will enhance mutual growth potential by taking advantage of strengths of the two airlines’ busy hubs.

SAA’s Interim CEO Thomas Kgokolo, says “As well as being a strong local carrier, part of our broader growth strategy is to become a major player in regional travel and this joint memorandum with Kenya Airways, one of the continent’s strongest and most respected carriers, will do just that.

Part of SAA’s core remit is to be a significant enabler of business and trade in Africa and it’s through a strategic understanding like this that real progress will be made in advancing South Africa and the continent’s growth.”

Mr. Allan Kilavuka, Kenya Airways’ CEO, highlighted the partnership’s significance in turning around the fortunes of both KQ and SAA. “The future of aviation and its long-term sustenance is hinged on partnership and collaboration. Kenya Airways and South African Airways collaboration will enhance customer benefits by availing a larger combined passenger and Cargo network, fostering the exchange of expertise, innovation, best practices, and adopting home-grown organic solutions to technical and operational challenges’’. Said Mr Kilavuka.

The memorandum says, Kgokolo, will help improve customer experience by offering a wider range of choices and destinations. The cooperation will also help in the standardisation of product and service offering that is in line with current global aviation trends.

Working with Kenya Airways he says will also harness internal resources and capacities leading to sustainable and cost-effective growth. This includes shared services in the areas of route networks, fleet, and capacity deployment; exploring economic, technical as well as maintenance, repair, and overhaul opportunities to achieve economies of scale.

Kgokolo says collaboration will also assist both airlines in the current and post-pandemic business and travel environment. This he says involves, joint recovery strategies and other cost containment strategies that will aid recovery of both carriers in an increasing competitive African airline environment. This agreement does not offer an exclusivity that precludes either of the airlines from pursuing commercial co-operation with other carriers within the current route network strategy.

Kgokolo believes the memorandum will also help the tourism sectors in both countries in time creating the most formidable airline in Africa, benefiting from at least two attractive hubs in Johannesburg, Nairobi and possibly Cape Town.

Kgokolo says the next step is for both parties to set up a joint working group to further discuss the memorandum and to put in place systems to achieve their joint stated objectives.

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